Page 3 - April 2024 - Truth & Tidings
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ust in my own country, over 7 million  do the devil’s work, for James adds that it
            acres of land are destroyed each year  can be “set on fire by hell.”
        Jby wildfires. The smoke itself from    Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that the
          these fires can travel hundreds or thou-  tongue has power not only to harm but
        sands of miles, affecting air quality for   also to heal: “Death and life are in the
        millions of people. These fires can disrupt   power of the tongue.” Fire can actually be
        critical infrastructure sectors such as com-  good, if properly controlled, burning out
        munications, transportation and power
        supply. The magnitude of damage from   impurities, providing light in the dark-
        a single wildfire can be astonishing. And   ness, and bringing warmth to those who
        the National Park Service has concluded   are cold or a good meal to the hungry. So,
        that nearly 85% of those fires are caused   too, the tongue can be set on fire not only
        by humans, often by an object as small as   by hell but also by heaven, supplying great
        an unextinguished cigarette.         blessing. With our tongues, we can spread
          James tells us that we can cause wildfires  the gospel rather than spreading gossip.
        that are even more disastrous. Although it  Instead of running others down, we can
        may take years, land damaged by fire can  lift them up in prayer to the Lord. We can
        be restored. Power lines, phone towers and  read and quote Scripture, because there is
        roads can be rebuilt, but lives torched by  nothing like the healing power of God’s
        the tongue may never recover. Rumors and   Word. We can speak words of encourage-
        gossip can spread faster than our ability   ment to one another that will edify. We can
        to stop them. Countless individuals have   praise and thank God for His mighty acts.
        been burned by slander, lies and belittling   We can worship Him, offering the “fruit of
        speech. Indeed, “the tongue is a small   our lips” (Heb 13:15). Indeed, both death
        member, yet it boasts of great things. How   and life are in the power of the tongue.
        great a forest is set ablaze by such a small
        fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of   In a vision, Isaiah had his lips touched
        unrighteousness” (Jas 3:5-6).        by a fire from heaven’s altar. A man af-
          Growing up, I learned the little saying   flicted with “unclean lips” (Isa 6:5) gave
        “Sticks and stones may break my bones,   us some of the most life-giving words ever
        but words will never hurt me.” How wrong   communicated (think Isaiah 53 here) after
        that rhyme has turned out to be. Spiritual   contact with that fiery coal. Perhaps we
        third-degree burns have been inflicted by  need to revisit the altar of Calvary today
        just a few words from a tiny uncontrolled  and ask the Lord to set our tongues ablaze
        tongue, a tongue that has the potential to  by heaven. Fueled by the Holy Spirit within
                                             us, we can pray that those flames spread
        1  Bible quotations in this article are from the ESV.  quickly to everyone everywhere.

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